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  • Kat Hounsell

Review: Be Mindful Online

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

Be Mindful Online is a 4-week mindfulness programme brought to you via the internet and the wonderful teams at Mental Health Foundation and Well Mind Media, as part of their prevention revolution strategy.

At everyday people, we love giving recommendations of wellbeing tools and activities that our team have test-run for themselves. Having spotted the Be Mindful Online course as an evidenced-based option, which also was ranked as a top 5 case study in RAND Europe’s report on promising practices for health and wellbeing at work... well, I thought I’d better give it a go and then tell you all about it!

Mindfulness is something I’ve toyed with over the past 12 years. Firstly unknowingly when the practices were a regular feature during my contemporary dance training, then becoming more aware of noticing the breath whilst in my favourite yoga pose of ‘final shavasana’, and in recent years with the odd formal lesson and instruction via apps such as Headspace and Stop, Breathe and Think (the latter a fantastic cost-effective option!).

"Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to life that helps us to relate differently to experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices." - Be Mindful Online

Mindfulness has been around for a long time. It’s origins in tradition and religion, both Eastern and Western, however in recent years it has flourished in popularity in part due to evolving bodies of research that back up the many benefits. It’s application into Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are becoming well-known approaches for building resilience and aiding recovery of mental ill health.

The Be Mindful Online course has its own proof points. According to the website, a University of Oxford study shows a 58% average reduction in anxiety, 57% average reduction in depression and a 40% average reduction in stress of all participants involved in the study.

Having had a particularly busy tail end of 2018, involving long-haul travel, working with new clients, big birthday parties, the verge of flu and the festivities of Christmas, it seemed like perfect timing to start.

Here’s what lay ahead...

In a nutshell, the goal is to practice mindfulness in various ways as much as possible across the 4 weeks. Without explicitly saying so, it feels as though the programme is designed to nudge you into habits of dedicated practice, spontaneous mindful moments and ongoing reflection.

In all honesty, week 1 felt like I’d been given homework to avoid, and it was usually when going to bed (or not at all) by the time I had a moment to practice the body scan. This was a powerful lesson though, it made me realise that I had fallen into a pattern of only allowing time for self-care at either the very start or very end of the day. Who says I can’t stop for a calm 20-minute break between the hours of 8am - 9pm?

Week 2 was my favourite. As a fan of dancing and yoga I loved the mindful movement practice and it reminded me that you don’t have to be sat still and cross-legged to notice what’s happening and focus on the breath.

The Isle of Skye was my holiday home during week 3 of the course. I expected that mindfulness here was going to be blissful, easy and natural. Hmmmm. I found the time (there’s not much else to do post 4pm sunset in the Scottish Highlands!) however the sitting meditation made me conscious of how busy my mind had become throughout 2018. It was uncomfortable yet I persevered, trusting the process.

Week 4 corresponded with going back to work and a hectic schedule I’d planned, very much non-mindfully, in 2018. Stopping, breathing and noticing helped me through that first week. I felt able to not allow stress to consume me and instead channel the energy into a plan for a more balanced February and beyond.

Have I kept it up? Not the dedicated practice time, however I do feel I’m finding more everyday opportunities to be mindful. Imagining my whole body breathing like an accordion came to me during one of the meditation practices and I’ve found this visualisation helpful as a nudge to breathe deeply. The course forwarded me a letter I’d written to myself 2-weeks previously, it had a profound impact on me and it’s now starred in my inbox as a lasting reminder.

So, would I recommend dedicating 4 weeks of your life to Be Mindful Online?

What was great

  • Perfect for newbies to mindfulness or those wanting to reground themselves in the basics

  • Practice when you’re ready - no set timings to stick to, go at your own pace

  • Quality instructors - you can trust their expertise

  • Website version easy to navigate

  • Excellent customer service, some of the best I’ve experienced recently!

  • Great value for money - only £30 to include the course, email check-ins, downloadable meditations and unlimited access to the resources

What I didn’t enjoy so much

  • Mobile version not quite as slick functionality wise… I accidentally clicked off an intro video and missed some learning, there was a PDF in the resources but not quite the same as hearing an explanation

  • I personally found one of the instructors not as easy to engage with - their posture and way of speaking felt a bit ‘stereotypical’ to meditation and could put off people who are coming into the course with skepticism (I acknowledge this is wholly a personal opinion)

I really enjoyed doing this course over the Christmas break and into the New Year. It helped me switch off from unhelpful autopilot habits and become more present. I’ve practiced mindfulness before but this was a great refresher in the foundations - well paced, excellent value for money and just what I needed! - Kat Hounsell, Be Mindful review

Be Mindful Online has been added to our everyday people recommendations for actions that individuals and organisations can take to thrive. For no additional charge there is even a workplace package available that also provides a dashboard for overseeing the implementation and capturing data. Definitely worth checking out.

I particularly like how the course lends itself to everyday actions that we can take as individuals to improve our wellbeing and performance. I’ll leave you with this idea for mindful listening that popped through my letterbox as part of the course follow up kit. Enjoy. And keep thriving.

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